June 30th is marked as Santhal Hool or the Santhal Rebellion Day. In 1855 on this very day thousands of Santhals rose up in revolt against the British rule which through Zamindari, money lenders and the legal system had taken over their lands and converted thousands to bonded labour.
The story of the Santhal revolt brings to fore all the evils of British colonisation and the zamindari system which they used as a tool to destroy the dignity of an ancient race -and the reason of the present poverty of a once Martial race.
The Santhals lived in the hilly area Manbhum, Barabhum, Chota Nagpur, Palamu and Birbhum. The Britishers invoked the divine rule to own land and gave away vast tracts of forest land to zamindars – the tribals were pushed into Rajmahal Hills. Due to British laws they lost their forest rights and their traditional livelihood. They fell into trap of Money lenders and aided by British laws they turned into Bonded Labour.
On June 30th two Mumru Brothers – Sido and Kanhu Murmu mobilised 10,000 Santhals and rebelled against the British rule and announced a parallel Government. Agents of British rule-Zamindars and money lenders were put to death. The Britishers were taken by surprise and took the help of Nawab of Murshidabad to quell the rebellion. Martial law was invoked in the Area and the rebellion put down brutally.
The words of the British officer major Jerwis are enough to describe the Great bravery of our Santhals.
“It was not war; they did not understand yielding. As long as their national drum beat, the whole party would stand, and allow themselves to be shot down. Their arrows often killed our men, and so we had to fire on them as long as they stood. When their drum ceased, they would move off a quarter of a mile; then their drums beat again and they calmly stood till we came up and poured a few volleys into them. There was not a sepoy in the war who did not feel ashamed of himself.”
Elephants supplied by Nawab of Murshidabad were used to demolish the Huts of the tribals. For one year Martial law continued.
The Bravery of the Santhals will always be remembered.
India Post had released a Stamp to commemorate the Great Bravery of the Santhals.
Picture Credit: Dynt